Saturday, July 21
(...continued from previous page)
As we rode the waterbus back to the main islands, we steamed past the mysterious 'isle of the dead': the cemetery island of San Michele. Venice itself has no room for cemeteries, so in the 1800s it was decided that burials were to take place here. With high brick walls coming right to the island's edge, it is a secretive and foreboding-looking place.
is a world-famous 100+ year-old contemporary art exhibition
that takes place every two years. Pu was especially excited to visit the
Biennale - he has a degree in industrial design and in that world, the
Biennale is a revered event.
The water-bus dropped us off at a stop just metres from the entrance to
the 'Giardini' (Garden) section of the Biennale. The signature bold-red
slab that signifies the Biennale stood ten metres high above us. We
didn't have a lot of time before we had to start heading back to the
mainland, so we got our watches synchronized, lined up for tickets, and
The Biennale is divided into two main sections: the Giardini (or Gardens)
and the Arsenale. The Giardini is located in a leafy wooded park-like
setting (rare for Venice), and consists of about thirty modern-looking
country pavilion buildings. The host country of each building hosts the
artistic works of someone (or more than one) from that country. The
Arsenale is located in the old 'Arsenal' - the industrial-era ship-
building zone of Venice, where the old buildings exude a strong sense of
run-down, iron-and-stone industrial-style elegance.
The exhibitions in the country pavilions were an eclectic mix of abstract
art - some simple and static, and some complex and mechanical or
electrical. Highlights were the vertical 'river of video' in the Russian
pavilion; the huge wide-screen real-life paintings in the Venezuelan
pavilion; the optical-illusion-y endless array of dartboards in the
nordic countries pavilion; and the crystals-with-rotting-flesh-and-
vegetation figures of the Canadian pavilion. And much, much more...